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Do You Want To Be Holy?
Page 2 of 4
So, then, what is holiness?
Any bible dictionary can help us with the meaning and even the interpretation of that concept. And if you have studied Theology, you will know a lot about it. Volumes have been written about this.
But we are simple Christians who want to please God with all our hearts, we cannot afford leaving our jobs to study more, we have families to take care of and what we have at hand are a few books and our Bible.
So sticking on that, let us take a shortcut.
We might be able to grasp some of what it means to be “a saint” in Paul's words.
Genesis: the Creation
Let us review the Creation as stated by Moses in the book of Genesis. Chapter one says God created many things in a certain order and among the created things there were the animals, fish and birds, which the Bible mentions as “living creatures”. The last thing God creates is man, which chapter 2 mentions later as a “living soul”. And sets this man to be above all other things.
We know from other parts of the Bible that God is Holy and we can therefore say that mankind was been created by a Holy God. But can we say that the creation was made holy too?
Although the creation was made by a Holy God, nowhere does it say that the Creation was made holy. It just mentions that every created thing, including mankind, was good.
Man made on God’s image
What was the difference between living animals and living man? First of all, God doesn’t call the animals “living souls” but “living creatures”.
Then we have Gen 1:26-27: And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creepers creeping on the earth. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
God created living beings, but made man different from the rest.
Gen 1:26 …in our image, after our likeness… (that is, of the Trinity).
He breathed into man the breath of life (God didn’t do that with the animals) and having man become a living soul, we can admit that God blowed into Him from God’s soul. (Would that make Adam a holy man? I think yes, but Scripture says nothing.)
Gen 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
A quick deduction follows:
–The life of man is not equal to the life of the animals.
–There is something more than just the animal life within us.
–God gave man the authority to be over all other living creatures, so he was more.
And more is to be understood when we zoom into the day of man’s creation:
Gen 2:16-17And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it.
–He could hear God’s voice.
–He could understand God’s sayings.
–He had the ability to think, weigh out things and decide, choose according to intellect and not only following instincts or genetical structures.
The fall of man
Adam was ordered not to do a particular thing.
Gen 3:3-7But of the fruit which is in the midst of the garden ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked;
We know from the story that follows, that they chose to do something different of what God had said to them. For a moment they chose… not to do…the will of God.
We will subsequently review what happened to them after that action, but let us for a moment stop by this point, because here is the one main issue that has to do with holiness: Choosing a different opinion rather than God’s was what caused the fall.
The fall was caused because they accepted to take a different path than the one God had chosen for them. The fall was caused because they disobeyed God’s wish, or will.
What happened next? Because apparently the serpent didn't lie when it said “they would not die”. After committing that action against the explicit will of God, they find themselves still walking and moving around just like before. Adam or Eve apparently didn’t die at that particular moment, although God said they would, or did they?
–Did Adam and Eve really die? And if, to what?
What is death?It is a change of state. When a person dies, we Christians know that the body goes back to the earth from where it has been taken, but the spirit goes somewhere else. So the person, despite not being in its body anymore, is still living, yet in a different state.
And in the story of Adam and Eve, we read that they had to leave the Garden.
Gen 3:23-24Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
But did that mean death?
To be kicked out of the Garden was maybe not a meaningful death, although it was a death. They never again returned to their original condition. And after God drove these two out of the Garden, one more major thing occurred. Remember the Garden?
Gen 3:8-9And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
The garden was a place on this earth, on which God would walk! In the garden, because Adam and Eve were there, the Creator and the creature had fellowship! They talked with each other! Man had communion with God in the Garden!
It was in the Garden that the love of God came to this earth and shared His life with mankind! The Garden was the place where the Presence of God was tangible. Yet after God drove these two out of the Garden, the place where God met man disappeared.
And it is to that -to what mankind died!
Never again would Adam and Eve be near to God as they had been! Never again would they hear God’s voice! Never again would they feel His Presence in their midst! They were now in a different state. In a state in which God did not dwell. True, the liar said the half truth that they wouldn’t die. Their flesh didn’t, but they died to the communion with the Almighty.
They died to the relationship with the beloved One.
–What happened with God?
Because of this act of Adam against the will of his Creator, the love of God was deeply grieved! Not so much because of the disobedience; no,but because of the separation of the ones He loved dearly.
Despite His grief God got man out of the Garden as quick as possible, because if man continued in this new behavior and ate from the other tree, the tree of life, never again in eternity would there be a chance for these two lovers to join again.
In our selfishness we may tend to accuse the hardness of the chastisement. Look how He reacted to such a little thing (in our eyes...)! Of course, we are the small creatures, and we think that because He is the Almighty God, He needs nothing.
Wrong! His love needs you! His love desires you! This whole move was caused by God's love, not His wrath! God wants mankind back at his side, and that as soon as possible. He wants to be able to surround us with His presence as well as feel our love for Him too. He needs that, and has therefore prepared a way…
–Sin entered into this world
But before going one step further, let’s look at something. What does the apostle Paul say about what happened that day?
Rom 5:12Therefore, even as through one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed on all men inasmuch as all sinned:
Rom 5:19For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous.
The apostle says that “sin” entered into this world. On this world sin had been unknown till that day on which the head of this world –man– took a different path to follow, other than God’s.
What is sin?
– What has it to do with good and evil?
Coming back to the narrative of what happened the Garden, we notice that there are words been said about knowing good and evil. Adam and Eve did not have that knowledge, and the desire for it was their trap.
But was the picking of the forbidden fruit an evil action?
Considering that knowledge of good and evil entered into mankind after they committed the action, we must say that although evil and good existed, it was not accessible to man, and evil had also not yet defiled this earth, of which man was the head.
Again, was the picking of the forbidden fruit an evil action?
No, it was not an evil action. It was a sinful action.
Was goodness lost and evil gained? Yes, but indirectly. On this world they appeared after sin. Sin came in first.
Can a sinner make good deeds? Yes. Can a sinner have fellowship with God, if he only does is good and righteous enough? No.
What is sin then?
If it has entered into mankind when the forbidden fruit was eaten, then there is only one explanation:
Sin is the diversion from God’s word to follow other words.
“It cannot be something as simple as that!” one tends to think. And yet, it is just that.
Sin is not to do according to God’s wish.
Sin is not when we are struggling against temptation; it is when we finally accept the other way.
A sinful nature is one that does things not according to or even opposed to God’s wishes.
He is the Creator, He knows how things should be, but we have been created with the ability -and the freedom- to choose, and therefore we choose.
A sinful nature is what entered into our first father. And continues in us.
– What has sin to do with holiness?
Goodness and righteousness are directly linked to holiness, in that holiness only lives with goodness and righteousness, but these are virtues of the heart, attitudes and behaviors of mankind, which come from within a man, while holiness is a state of the spirit of man.
Luke shows that there is a difference.
Luk 1:72to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant,
and 74-75 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.
But another verse clarifies what holiness brings to mankind, indicating that the only coin one can present to reach the Person of God is to be holy.
Heb 12:14Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
Adam and Eve had fellowship with God. And then the voice of the Lord was heard… “Adam, where are you?” Gen 3:10. That is hearing the voice.“…I hid myself”.That is seeing.
“To be holy” and “to be good”, are these synonyms? No.
- Result of sin: Separation from the presence of God
Let us sum this up. Holiness is the state in which God dwells, and if His creatures are in that same state, both can have fellowship with each other. Sin is the choosing of other ways different than those of God.
But what we have, a sinful nature, is something worse than just sin. To have a sinful nature, is to have our nature so defiled that no matter what or how we try, we will never be able to do the will of God. It is to have such an opposed nature impregnated in the spirit, that it says: “–No! I’ll do it my way. I’ll do itmy friends’ way. I’ll live as my counselors’ say. But I am not interested in your way, o God!”
As in the natural realm it is impossible for man to return from death by his own will, it is also impossible for creatures with sinful natures to return to Adam's pre-fall holy state. It is impossible for us to get out of our sinner’s nature and get into a holy nature, therefore it is impossible for us to have that fellowship with God again, that Adam and Eve had.
Thanks to God, though, for His awesome love, which not one of us can even slightly comprehend. He came for us. He is interested in having us back with Him. He really, really loves us!
So right in the early years, He kind of “invented” a system to enable men to draw near. He enabled a way for mankind to get to Him every once in a while. He called a man named Moses to elaborate His plan with Him.
The first Covenant
The love of God “invents” a way to re–establish the lost communion and fellowship
– A place among them
God asks Moses to make a place for Him among them. He wanted to be with them. So he designed what He needed according to His holiness, and they constructed what we know today as the tabernacle of Moses or the Tabernacle of the Covenant, because God closed a deal there with the people of Israel. He would be their God, and they would be His people, that is, those who would walk according to His words (remember that is the core of holiness).
– A promise; obedience and holiness
If they obeyed, they would be a holy nation. Here we see again, how obedience is related to holiness.
Exo 19:1-6 In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai. For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount. And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.
And a lot of measures were taken to allow God’s presence among the people. Maybe the main ones were the ones related to the remittance of sin.
– A way for Himself
Since sin separated man from God, and sin is within the nature of man, the only way to get rid of sin was to get rid of the nature that had the sin in it. Therefore the sinful man had to die, in order to get sin out of the way, but what then? Once dead, how could man live again?
So God prepared an amazing way, which, although it had to be accomplished by man, was prepared mainly for God. God made this way for Himself, in that, because of the great love He has for us, and the desire for us to get to Him, He allowed Himself to accept a substitute to replace the sinner.
– The substitute
He ordered how it had to be done, and it was that the sinner had to bring a lamb without blemish to the priest, and by confessing his sins while holding his hand on the lambs head, all sins were then remitted to the lamb, that was then was slain to get sin from between this relationship.Then God and man could get nearer to each other… at least for a while, till the sinful nature in the man again stained the relationship.
Despite the difficulties, it worked well for quite some time.
The book of Exodus mentions that God was pleased. Things had been done according to his words, and the surrounding holiness allowed God to be with his children. They became His special treasure, and a holy people.
Exo 40:34-38Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys:But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.
Results of the 1st.covenant.
– Weakness on man’s side
Nevertheless, despite that this new order of God gave His people a way to get under the heavenly breeze of the Almighty, and that these ordinances and different rituals, when properly followed by the children of Israel, gave access to forgiveness through the blood of the animals securing a place with Abraham, (so to say, a place in heaven), and they could have a certain fellowship with God, these things did not take away the sinful nature from man.
The blood of the clean animals washed away the sins –all the sins that the sinful nature produced–, but left the sinful nature untouched.
In fact, the people of Israel where very happy to have God as a column of fire at their site, but when it came to getting nearer to God, the sinful nature pushed man away from God, and they said to Moses: “–You go; we’ll watch from here”. The sinful nature in man pulls against God and away from God all the time.
They found that sometimes it only took a few steps out of the tabernacle after having offered a lamb asking God for forgiveness, and there would the sinful nature again defeat the best wishes of the soul, causing sin to be repeated. A new lamb needed to be sacrificed again as soon as possible. And that went so on and on.
– Another weakness
One more thing concerned God even more, and it was that although forgiveness would be imparted to many, fellowship was only possible for one. Just the High Priest –and only once a year– could enter the Inner Tabernacle and meet the glory of the Lord there. Only one representative of mankind would go there, and that only once each 360/365 days.
The Lord was certainly happy to dwell among His beloved ones now, and He loved to hear all the noises outside His place, behind the curtain that separated both, that His loved ones made when completing the necessary steps for attaining forgiveness. This nearness of His beloved creatures made Him feel so good. And yet, it also bothered God a bit because He was restricted to giving so little of Himself, and to so few. And then, they could not see Him. All that mainly because of His Holiness, so opposed to their sinfulness.
This first covenant had these problems; it couldn’t help man overcome his sinful nature, and God was so restricted.
God endured this situation until a time came in which He finally decided to replace this imperfect Covenant with a new one. He decided to finish with all of this, and start a new covenant that would bring man definitively back to God’s Garden. To that Garden where God and man walked together and had fellowship, as in the early days.
And that new covenant was going to be a better one. It was going to replace man's inner “always-discussing-God’s-decisions-nature” , with God’s laws. The sinful nature with its constant pulling against God would be over–written. God promised man a new nature.
This new Covenant would not depend upon man’s trying to get over the sinful force within Him, but it would give him freedom to walk righteously and in holiness.
The same verse we read before from the Gospel of Luke is a wonderful window that lets us see what was going to be done. The strength of the enemy that subdued mankind was going to be broken, and all men were going to be able to walk in God’s ways.
Luk 1:72-75That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.
And in this new decision, God was going to do things by Himself. He wouldn’t ask man anymore to try to get to Him. He would come to man, and do a convenient and everlasting work.
He 8:7-10 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
Again the last verse speaks to us about God’s willingness for fellowship. He wants to come a let Himself known to everyone. “All shall know me, from the least to the greatest. And this is not only because of the knowledge itself, but because when man gets to know God, God is able to fill man with His own nature, and that is God’s ultimate goal.
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